Monday, November 29, 2010

Short Epilogue to Lasts Nights Struggles!

I finally went to sleep at 5 am this morning, and of course had to wake up at 6:30, so I didn't get a whole lot of sleep, but I did alright. Anyways, I cancelled the appointment to look at the house during 1st recess, so I wouldn't linger on the decision. However, I thought that I would just go take a look at this house that had roused such emotion in me last night. As I pulled up, I was kind of kicking myself for cancelling the appointment. I was super cute! It had an adorable sun room front porch, and a raised front yard, with a quaint little garden wall.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the gate to the back yard was open, so of course, I had to take a quick look. The back yard was large, and had two worn down cottage style sheds, but even better, I just happened to notice that the back door was open. I debated about whether I should take a look or not, and I had to go look. I yelled Hello, to see if anyone was there. The house was Tiny! It's hard to imagine, but it was even smaller than the one we're in now, in every way! And I don't recall seeing a kitchen.
Verdict is, we made a good choice, and once again God is right! I think He left the back door open just for me, so He could show me what I would be getting into if I try to do this on my own. If I just have patience, and do this in His time, we will get what we've been praying for, and more. I've learned my lesson, and I think I really need to just quit looking at what's out there until its truly time!

The Struggles of Getting Out of Debt!!

Just today, I was telling Alex that I wish we had been keeping a journal of what it has been like to be getting out of debt. We have truly been through so much during this process that it would take a book to cover it all. So many people have watched us go through it all, yet so many are really just seeing us go through it now. Unfortunately, the people who are seeing it now, are only getting a small picture of what it has truly been like, and let me tell you, it has definitely been a struggle. There have been so many times that we've chosen not to eat out, even though we desparately wanted to, or have even had to tell each other "no" on things we have wanted to purchase.

Today was a perfect example. I felt completely inspired this morning from the video that was shown at Church. They introduced the Advent Conspiracy, and talked about what Christmas has become in America with all the spending we do. I have been completely on board with this, and we are not strangers to having a cash Christmas, since this will be our 5th one. I can't tell you how much stress this relieves. I even felt inspired to jot a few of my thoughts down about it in an earlier blog.

It is so true, that when I spew out words of wisdom, they are usually coming directly down from God to help me at that very moment. Only a couple of hours after I wrote that little diddy, did I start thinking about moving again. For those of you who know me well, you know that this is one of my strongest weaknesses right now!! I want to move, and I want to move badly!! Well, of course, we found another perfect place to move into. The price is right, the location is right, it is perfect!! I had it completely in my mind that I could go look at this place, and be completely non-committed to getting this place, and we would be open if God could work it out. If not, I'm ready to walk away. Alex was totally on board with me looking at it, and gathering information.

However, after discussing it further, and throwing all of our thoughts out on the subject, I actually came to the conclusion that it really doesn't fit into our financial plan for us to move at this time in the year, for many reasons. It just doesn't work, unless God performs a major miracle. We went to bed and I was 100% determined to just call tomorrow, and cancel the appointment, since there is no need to mess with temptation. As I was laying in bed, I was praying, and I just found myself getting more and more angry! Why can't we just do it? Why do we have to wait? What if there isn't another place like this when we're ready to move in February? What if our plan is delayed? I don't want to wait!! Lord, why am I so angry about this? I don't get it! HELP!! I NEED YOUR STRENGTH!! That did it! I was done!

Before I knew it, I was in a full on "Grown Up Temper Tantrum". All I could do was cry and be angry. I woke up Alex, and he helped soothe me. After I mostly calmed down, I let him go back to sleep, while I read the Bible out loud to give myself some peace. Now here I am at 2:38 am, writing this, quite humbly, I might add.

So, there you go! My logical brain knows that what our family is doing is vital! I have no doubt. However, I go through these difficult times more often than I would like to admit. I know that God has given this plan to me and Alex, and even helped us to get our kids on board, who struggle with this less than I do, but what can I say? I've got a long way to go yet. I am fully aware how much I cannot do this on my own, in my own strength. I guess its time for me to let go of the control, for the gazillionth time, and hand it over to God where it belongs, and always is anyways.

If you are feeling like you are alone in you financial troubles, please know that you are not!! Also, please know that it is not easy.

Hebrews 12:11 states: No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it is painful!! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Once our family gets out of debt, we have several new goals to reach. One of those goals is to try new things. We were able to get a taste of that today. A few months ago, I purchased 4 bouldering passes from The Circuit Gym in Portland from LivingSocial! It was a great deal for trying something new!
Our experience was awesome! Quinn, the lady who greats you at the front door was very friendly and knowledgeable, and she pointed us in the right direction, which was the kids area. We got a feel of the fun atmosphere right away. There were children and adults. We even saw a couple, who were taking turns climbing, while the other stayed with their crawling baby. The "slack rope" was really cool to watch. We called it a tight rope, but were informed that we were saying it incorrectly. Basically, it's a rope hung at a low height from two walls that you can try to walk acrossed. Guys and gals alike were doing all kinds of tricks on it.
We ended up staying for about 3 hours, and have definitely agreed that we want to do it again! I would highly recommend this experience!!

Annual Target Gift Registry Date!

Our family has come to love this tradition!! We eat out. The kids scan. It's a ton of fun!
We started this tradition, because every year the grandparents would call and ask us what our kids wanted for Christmas. I would tell them what I thought, and often times was completely off.
I'd have them ask the kids, but Chrystian doesn't talk much, and Byanca couldn't always remember what she wants. Plus, when they would tell them, there were often times the grandparents would have no idea what they were talking about. "What's a PSP?" they would ask, and it's very difficult to explain. This was our solution.
We don't expect everyone to buy from Target, we just like that we can let the kids loose, and they can scan what they wish, and we can put sizes for clothing, and shoes. Our family is always happy to be able to pull this up online or print it out at Target. The kids know they're not going to get everything, but it's very fun to dream! For us, its all about the experience!

Christmas Budget!!

Clearly, there are so many things vying for our money this time of year, which is why it is vital to carefully consider a good Christmas Budget. No, not the straight jacket that most people thing of, when you mention the “B” word! You can have wings to fly, when you have a well thought out budget. And not having the Holidays follow you into the next year, is a great place to start for new traditions this year. With all the spending you feel you “must” do, the Holiday Season can seem to fly. If you would like a sense of slowing things down a bit, I would suggest that you stop to reflect and communicate what is really important as a family, and find alternate ways to celebrate,. This doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t buy gifts, or don’t spend money. It simply means you don’t buy gifts because you feel guilted into it, and if you can’t afford to buy something-you don’t buy it!

When we began to think of our budget, we started by writing down all the people we would like to give gifts to, and we projected what we would like to spend. Of course, there is our immediate family, who we spend the most on; the name drawing from Alex’s family, couples gifts for my family, our nephews, our adopted niece and nephew, teacher gifts, etc. There are also events to consider; will we need to eat out because we’ll be too busy for this event, and will we want to bring a gift for the host/hostess of that event? Are there any extra school projects, field trips, or programs we might need to budget for? All of these things add up, and if you don’t realistically think them through, you will be wondering where the money went, and what other budget can you pull from, or worse, which credit card can we use to make up the slack. You may find at this point that you have to say “no” to a few things. This is not as difficult as it may sound, and I have found that great alternate ideas of giving come from the desire to give a gift, but having no budget to give from.

This is where you can really get creative, and begin to rethink how you give! Sometimes, I even find that the person I’m thinking of really doesn’t need another “thing” this Christmas. Perhaps they would just enjoy a gift of time! Here are a few alternate gift ideas:
• Babysitting for a friend, who could use a date with their spouse;
• coffee with a listening ear;
• a movie together;
• take a friend to the beauty school to get facials or pedicures together.
• Game night with family friends
I know there are endless ideas!
• You could try something new as a family. Our family, this year, was lucky to get some really great gift certificates for things to do, such as roller skating, ice skating, and bouldering. We’re very excited to do these things together, and we’ll even get to try something new!
• You could make things for a few people this year. It will still cost some money, so you still have to budget for it, but it is really fun to do together, and in the end it can save some money. Handmade items are really trendy right now!
• You could give the gift of starting new traditions as a family!

One year, we decided that we were done trying to keep up with the latest thing our kids were into. Family would call to see what they wanted, and we would have no idea what to tell them, and the kids had a hard time coming up with a list off-the-top of-their-heads too. In order to fix this problem, a few years ago, we started taking our kids to Target to make a Christmas Registry. It instantly became a wonderful new tradition! We budget to eat out and make a whole night out of it, which makes for a really great time!

Obviously, these are just a few ways you can save money. The most important points are these: identify what is truly important to you and your immediate family, communicate this with the people around you, have a plan, get creative and make more experiences during the holidays!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Miniature Ginger Bread Houses

I have been completely inspired by the challenge our church has laid out, which is, to find ways to spend time as a family doing things
instead of spending so much money
this Holiday Season.

One of the projects we decided to take on was making homemade Ginger Bread Houses, and it seemed perfect to do them miniature size, when we found out Gracie and Cymon were coming over.

I have to say they turned out absolutely FABULOUS!!

The kids had such a great time putting these together, and because of the short cuts we figured out, it was a very simple craft!!

So, here's what we did. We used the template below, but we cut the measurements in half, and truly I must admit I was a bit afraid they might be too small. They were fine! One of the shortcuts we learned was, you can actually roll out your ginger bread dough onto a "well floured" baking pan (I used my Pampered Chef Stoneware Baking Pan), and bake it as one large rectangular cookie. This allows you to cut out the 2 hours of refrigerator time that most ginger bread house recipes call for. Then you can cut the shapes right out of that, which gives you more uniform sizes. Simply lay your template on top of the cookie sheet, after it has cooled, and cut, while it is still in the pan!
Also, we used the Easy Frost, which has become my new best friend for fun and simple decorating of cakes, cupcakes, etc. This really allows the kids to be able to decorate and have a blast. One thing we did learn however, make sure you let the constructional frosting sit for about ten minutes. For example, when you put the bottom pieces of the house together, let the frosting sit before you put on the roof. Then when you put the roof on, YOU MUST LET THE FROSTING SIT!!! We did it too soon, because the kids were so excited to decorate. Sure enough, soon after we took these pictures, the roofs fell off. Luckily, the kids didn't care, since they were more concerned with the fact that they were going to get to eat these at some point!
Here's the link we used for the recipe:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Clearly, I haven't posted on here for a while, and I have done a multitude of crafts, which I was posting on Facebook instead of on my blog, including our Halloween Costumes. I'm definitely planning on doing a better job at posting on my blog from here on out. I'm really excited about a couple of projects I've got going on right now. A few teacher's gifts, so I won't show those until they're given. A few home made gifts for my neqhew's and nieces (some that were adopted into our family). I'm going to be working on a few Holiday decorating projects and a lighting craft that I am super excited about. I'm also trying to incorporate my children into my crafting more, which was completely inspired by Michele Klundt, who not only is amazing at planning wonderful activities for her children, but she also helped me in updating my blog as well.

Anyways, crafting with my kids has been the best! I'm truly loving this! My kiddos have been cooking with me, sewing, painting, needle working, etc. It really has been great! They're learning how to make very useful and fun things!

Byanca's Jewelry Holder

Today, Byanca and I made these two great jewelry holders for her. We got the frames at Goodwill, painted them orange, then added these cool paper backgrounds. We then attached the wire mesh, and screwed in the hooks. Lastly, we added some bling, and Voila! We were done! They Look Fantastic!

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